IIG News

Roots & Wings Mentor & Mentee Catch Up 

Janelle Kettle is the Chief Operating Officer for Kettle Consulting and is mentoring Mapaseka Moate a Senior Underwriting Assistant at ITOO Special Risks.

Janelle shared some of the operational strategies, organisations may have to re-think during this pandemic and after:

The three main areas of operational strategies that organisations need to re-think are 3P’s, People, Processes and Profit.

People: Organizations have a valuable opportunity to capitalize on the significant behavioural and cultural shifts of the past few months so that they carry across into a non-COVID world. Companies will need to adapt to evolving employee expectations and ways of working. Those include greater focus on meaningful work, flexibility and autonomy, continuous growth and connection. To make the shift needed, companies can build greater agility into their organisations and use people analytics to understand what drives employee engagement.

Process: Technology has enabled us to rethink the ways in which we perform fundamental activities in this crisis. This might mean developing omni-channel business models that combine digital and face-to-face offerings. This period is an opportunity for business leaders to explore how we can make greater use of technology to augment people so that we achieve productivity gains, improve the working lives of our employees, deliver better products and services to our customers and help drive higher economic growth. Although the impact of machine learning, artificial intelligence and advanced robotics will be disruptive, these technologies represent an enormous opportunity.

Profit: Corporate social innovation strategies can provide a positive impact on society as well as businesses’ bottom lines. Ok, so this will be remembered as the 2020 financial crises and the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to hit companies’ margins and profitability. Even during this financial crisis, corporations have the capacity to shape public policy; through corporate social responsibility programmes. Supporting small local business is just one way amongst others that large corporations can contribute to the greater South African economy during this time. Clearly, we won’t revert back to our old ways of living, working or doing business once the worst of the crisis has passed. During these uncertain times one thing we are certain of is that tomorrow is going to be very different – which is why we must start reframing the future today.

Mapaseka shared how the COVID19 situation has changed her working environment:

The Covid19 situation has changed my working environment in a way that I can now work from the comfort of my own home. And personally that’s the best thing ever because I’ve came to realise that I’m more effective when I’m working remotely rather than at the office, and that’s simply because at the office there are many distractions such as every 2 minute coffee breaks, little chit chats and the endless meetings. What I also enjoy  is that I do not have to spend time deciding on my outfit for the next day and spending time preparing myself in the morning while getting late. One more thing is that I do not have to be stuck in traffic since that was my worst nightmare. So, in short, working remotely is a dream come true and I actually get more work done and have had enough time to really understand and appreciate my family because I now spend more time with them.

 How the Roots & Wings programme is impacting Mapaseka and Janelle:

Mapaseka: We are facing a global and economic crisis. I personally think that my Mentor and I met at the perfect time because I’ve come to realise that are ample opportunities and if it wasn’t because of the Roots & Wings programme I would not have the courage to take advantage of them. Having Janelle as my Mentor has unlocked the bravery in me and because of that, I believe in myself more than I ever did before. My entrepreneurial desire has come to existence as I am a proud owner of a delivery service in my township and that’s all because of Janelle’s support. My heart is full of gratitude and no words can describe how I’m feeling. I am transforming to becoming a wonderful and amazing woman and that’s all thanks to my Mentor. Power to the woman …………“WOMANDLA” that’s our slogan and the picture says it all.

Janelle: I had the privilege of hosting this session at my offices and physically meeting Mapaseka since our pairing event. We discussed all her goals that she has in all areas of her wheel of life and adjusted them based on the fact that we don’t know how long the pandemic will last. We also spoke at length about her career goals and clearly defined the plan in achieving these.


Chris Potter is a Portfolio Executive at Emerald Africa and is mentoring Lebogang Mogari a Contingency Administrator at Nedbank Insurance.

Chris shared some of the operational strategies, organisations may have to re-think during this pandemic and after:

I imagine that most companies around the world, were taken by surprise, when the WHO declared Covid 19 a pandemic. Everyone from Presidents to citizens had to readjust their thinking of everyday life, and how they would continue with life, from both a working, and personal perspective. Whilst many people around the world, had become used to technology being part of their everyday lives; I’m sure no one thought it would become imperative to have access to, and to understand technology, quite like we are all doing now. Working remotely has become the norm for many people around the world and ensuring that employees have the right tools to be able to work away from their normal environment, was something, I’m sure many employers, found challenging.

Not all employees can continue to work away from their employers premises, and this has created many challenges for both them and their employers. Ensuring the emotional wellbeing of employees, and keeping them motivated, during the current situation is critical for the continued operation of any business. I would say that the majority of people are used to human interaction when at work, and companies have had to adjust their strategies, to ensure that both the employees, the management of the business, and their customers, are able to communicate effectively and efficiently. All businesses exist because of the people; not the buildings, products or machines! Regular communication, whether via online sessions, or through inter-company media posts, and phone calls between business leaders and their employees, can be both informative, and motivational. Ensuring staff feel valued, and an integral part of the business, has always been, and will continue to be, one of the most important ways to drive good work ethics, and a sense of being responsible for the part one plays in any business.

Business leaders must ensure that their customers are well informed, with regards to the ways that they can still purchase services and or products, when not able to physically be in their store, or when there is a reduced number of staff, to deal with client’s needs. High quality services and products, and a pleasant person to person experience, are the hallmarks of a well-run company, and highly motivated team of both management and staff. These things must continue, for any business to survive, and never more so than during this current period of uncertainty, and anxiety around the world. In my opinion; the businesses that will survive into the future, are those that engage positively with all stakeholders, and have empathy with their customers situations whatever they may be. Be there for your customers and employees, and be consistent!! If a business does these things, it will continue to be relevant!!

 Lebogang shares how has the COVID19 situation changed his working environment:

COVID19 has completely flipped the world around and changed our realities on so many dimensions.  The introduction of the lockdown was an upper ladder. From a work perspective, The Level 5 lockdown regulation changed my job title from a Contingency Administrator to an Essential Worker. I had the advantage of working from home or better known as #WFH and at the office with the permit granted to travel to work but most of the time I’m in the comfort of my own home.

The first two weeks into the lockdown were grueling as we were trying to settle into the “new ways of working”. It required continuous communication and I had extensive connectivity issues. However, we have embraced it all. I have now settled into the NEW NORMAL with the advantages of less travel time, more time with my family. I have also invested in building a home office to be a conducive and productive space (you know the pressure of having bookshelves for those zoom meetings, I’m not there yet)

My current challenge is the load shedding, I need to give a thought on available solutions to ensure that ’home-office’ business continuity is not comprised.

What really stuck out for me with this whole transition, is my recent involvement on testing Nedbank Insurance Funeral deployment on the MoneyApp where we were working in the evening until 3am (My first ever nightshift) and daytime taken up with assistance on long term insurance claims on various products as we have seen an influx due to COVID 19. It is been an eye-opener seeing first-hand how COVID19 impacted households’ incomes. I also assist with short-term and long-term insurance incoming calls for both claims and policy services (it may sound like I’m overselling myself, well I’m entangled in most operations areas ).

How the Roots & Wings programme is impacting Chris and Lebogang:

Lebogang: I am beyond grateful for this programme. We have marked the first 7 months of the year and we have only been together for 4 – 5 months which has been a brilliant journey. Chris and I only met twice and we had impactful monthly sessions virtually where we discussed how to self-manage from home and communicating skills (his favourite line – know your audience and know your subject) just to mention a few.

Chris’s intention from day one, from when I was introduced to him -’I want you to be who you are’ – without knowing for past months I’ve been in the self-discovery zone where I also had to unplug from the social world and reflect on my goals. I had a lot going on and Chris insisted we meet up and this was at a shopping centre for some coffee as he was looking for a bed side carpet. Personally, it was a retail therapy that turned into a life lesson and I felt lighter afterwards.

We visited the rug/carpet store in Clearwater Mall and spent an hour (it was not our intention) with shop owner Ihsan Barutcu. Both gentlemen shared on the origin and the production journey of the final product.

My take outs were that (Life lesson):

  • It will take time, don’t be in the rush (handmade carpets take time)
  • It will require consistent dedication and the right techniques’ (detail is everything on a carpet, it requires dedication to get that fine weave)
  • Life is to be viewed in different angles/perspectives/dimensions in order to make healthy decisions (the carpet weaves look different from all angles)

And finally, it is not about the destination, it is about the journey!

Chris: Lebogang and I communicate on a regular basis; however, I felt it was important to spend some time with each other face to face. I wanted to do something that we may not normally do, in our day to day lives. The picture was taken in a store, where hand woven Asian carpets are sold. People have been weaving carpets for millennia, and they have been used for warmth, decoration, a record of history, and for trade between peoples and nations. The store owner taught us some of the history of carpet weaving. The carpet in the photograph, is being woven by one of the ladies in his family, and is of silk threads. The weaving process can take up to three years for this small carpet. The lesson, I want Lebogang to take away from this interaction, is that what you look at is not just an object; it is a story of skill and patience; of history and a love for what you do. We both learned so much from our day out, and appreciation for the work that goes into creating all things.


Thabo Twalo from Munich Re is mentoring Name: Esme Rossouw an on-Boarding Manager at Fulcrum Collections.

Thabo shares some of the operational strategies, organisations may have to re-think during this pandemic and after:

I think that this experience will give impetus to organisations to experiment more with different working models. Nothing new was invented in the last 4 months and all the tools we are now familiar with were in existence before lockdown. The urge to explore what they are really capable of was not there until now. The adoption of new technologies and operational models is not a luxury but is the difference between survival or becoming obsolete. I recall a time when we had to motivate to our managers why we need to be allocated a laptop. Today, if it wasn’t for the fact every employee in my company has a laptop we would not have been easily abled to switch to working from home. I think of retail companies that did not gear up for online shopping because they viewed online shopping as a niche offering.

The other term that is bandied about frequently is the new normal. I personally think that we are quite far from defining what this is. For example, while working from home has great benefits and many companies have achieved close to 100% productivity during this lockdown, some of these benefits are based on the fact that everyone is working from home. The minute you have more than 50% of team members in the office then there will be conversations that those who are working from home miss out on. This presents new challenges in the formation of the new normal.

Esme shares how has the COVID19 situation changed her working environment:

The COVID19 situation made me realize that you don’t need office space or minimal office space, you can actually work from anywhere in the world. There seems to be frustrations around employees not being disciplined enough to be working from home e.g. starting late, not at their desk, longer lunch and leaving earlier, I need to manage better. What will have to change is how we look at DR (Disaster recovery) policies and SOP’s (Standard Operating Procedures) within the workplace. This is definitely a game changer, we need to be more flexible, adaptable and structured, this will define who you are and the difference between people who will succeed and those who will not.

How the Roots & Wings programme is impacting Esme and Thabo:

Esme: This program along with my mentor changed the way I manage and talk to people in the working environment as well as on a personal level, how to deal with difficult conversations and people as well as different personalities. I can gladly say I’m softening the edges around my tone and how I say things. Self-management also plays a big part in managing my behavior and emotions to maintain good relationships. I am also adapting to various circumstances – building up resilience, which includes my own personal growth, personal mindset and problem solving.

Thabo: The value of in personal interaction cannot be overstated and while Esme and I have had really productive talks over Skype but it was through our face to face catch up while exploring nature that I feel I really got to know her. Talking and walking with nature as a backdrop has a unique way of making problems that seemed insurmountable manageable. Perhaps it is the fact that your body is engaged in a physical activity that unlocks the brains creativity, I can’t be sure. All I can say is that this was a highlight of the mentorship journey thus far and we agreed that more physical activities that allow for social distancing need to be part of our sessions in the future.


Catherine Albertyn the Operations Executive for Personal Lines at Garrun Group is mentoring Nicky Lindokuhle Nkomo a Commercial Underwriter at Lateral Unison Insurance Brokers

Catherine shares some of the operational strategies, organisations may have to re-think during this pandemic and after:

This is quite a question and a real “moving target” as companies (brokers in my case) attempt to keep up with the insurer/reinsurer market, tech developments and competitor advances in the time of Covid-19. This requires the approach where short term scenario planning is key- and more than just a few versions of the future need to be considered.  An obvious one and a very hot topic that needs little explanation is the change in the working environment to remote working. Health and safety has also been accelerated up the list of priorities for many businesses with an increased focus on health, safety and cleanliness- emphasis being placed on the mental health and financial wellbeing of our employees. Following this theme new ways of engaging with our colleagues is something that businesses should be working hard at with a different style of leadership emerging and managers exploring options of how to cultivate the desired culture and values across the business without the daily face to face interactions. From a client servicing point of view there is a move towards digitisation, platformification and self-service- allowing customers to engage with your business on their terms. One of the key focus areas here as a broker- is to still ensure that the client finds that you add value and are relevant to mitigating their risks in their personal lives and the insurance of their businesses. The insurance of intangible risks such as Cyber, Professional Indemnity, D & O etc. and many new emerging products focused on the pandemic is taking priority over the more traditional and tangible asset insurance- it is important that business are making that change and remain agile and able to adapt- agility is KEY! These are just some of the challenges that I think need to be focused on- and these can change- new ones are emerging all the time. It certainly is a very exciting time to be involved in insurance and sometimes a little uncomfortable- but there are huge opportunities for businesses that can identify the challenges and adapt their strategy quickly and effectively with a multi-disciplined approach.

Nicky shares how the COVID19 situation changed his working environment?

The global pandemic has created this rapid transformation within the workplace, which led to this invisible barrier between my colleagues and me. Even though we were all working in our own place of comfort, it has improved our team work as we are more in sync than ever before. This has further improved our service delivery leading to more happy clients. When you are working from home you spend more time on your work trying to perfect it and improving the existing processes. As an individual who has fallen victim to this virus the support that I have been receiving from my colleagues is overwhelming and priceless. The first few weeks of the lockdown were not easy and having to get used to working from home took some time.

How the Roots & Wings programme is impacting Nicky and Catherine:

Nicky: The Mentorship programme has impacted me in a positive manner! My mentor is a great leader and has taught me quite a lot. I have learnt to value, be patient and appreciate what I have through crocheting our very own beanies. Through the mentorship, I learnt the value of one’s image on how important it is and that I need to treat myself as a brand. My Mentor has opened me up to being more courageous and overcoming my fears. The advice I have been receiving by her has also given me the platform to be a good leader within my workplace and prepares me for my future career growth.

Catherine: Nicky and I have set ourselves a few challenges during our Roots and Wings journey and this picture aptly depicts 2 of them. I hadn’t donated blood for a few years and Nicky is a regular donor- he convinced me it was time to donate again. The other challenge he came up with was to “crochet a beanie”. I had never done this before- however I think Nicky had a bit of a head start with his girlfriend being an avid crocheter (is that a word?), and here we are wearing our Project Covid beanies. We have now decided to expand on this project and crochet as many as we can to hand out to people in need during this very cold winter.
I am so grateful to be a part of this program as it fosters many opportunities for growth both from the point of view of the mentee and mentor.